Beat pregnancy mood swings

Up one minute, down the next? Here’s how to ride the emotional roller coaster when your pregnant…

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Thrilled, terrified or just downright freaked out? There’s no doubt that as soon as you see that positive pregnancy test, your whole world changes. Midwife Jane Munro, of the Royal College of Midwives, explains, ‘Your hormones go into overdrive in the first three months.’ But remember, this is all completely normal, so don’t panic!

ALWAYS TIRED

Midwife Jane says:‘Feeling exhausted early on is normal, due to the surge of pregnancy hormones and changes taking place in your body as your baby develops. You’ll probably find the tiredness lifts during the middle months‚ but returns as your bump grows.’
WHAT YOU CAN DO
ASK YOUR MIDWIFE TO CHECK YOUR IRON LEVELS. You could be anaemic‚ as symptoms can include tiredness. If so‚ you may be recommended iron supplements.
EAT LITTLE AND OFTEN. Choose sustaining options such as oatcakes and cheddar‚ a handful of unsalted nuts or a wholemeal sandwich.
REST! It’s the most important thing you can do‚ so delegate chores‚ nap when possible and get to bed early.

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FORGETFUL
Midwife Jane says: Every pregnancy is different. It could be that you’re not as focused on normal things because you’re concentrating on your pregnancy.’
WHAT YOU CAN DO
MAKE TO-DO LISTS and keep a daily calendar.
DE-STRESS YOUR LIFE – get your partner to take on more chores and say no to unnecessary work and social commitments.

FULL OF WORRIES
However excited you are about being pregnant, it’s natural to feel anxious, too. You may be worried about miscarriage, your unborn baby’s health‚ the birth or how you’ll manage as a mum. When your hormones are raging‚ even minor worries can feel like the end of the world – it’s normal, we promise! You may then feel guilty about not feeling happier‚ which won’t help…
WHAT YOU CAN DO
TALK ABOUT IT. ‘Discuss your concerns with your partner‚ close friends or other mums‚’ says Jane. ‘You’d be exceptional if you didn’t have concerns‚ but if you’re anxious all the time‚ talk to your GP or midwife.’
LEARN TO RELAX. Regular gentle exercise‚ such as walking or swimming‚ will help relieve tension and lift your spirits. Try pregnancy-specific classes such as yoga‚ Pilates or aquanatal classes‚ where you’ll meet other mums-to-be at the same stage – great for sharing Your worries and getting support!
TREAT YOURSELF KINDLY, whether It’s by splashing out on maternity clothes or booking a pedicure or pregnancy massage.

ALWAYS CRYING
Midwife Jane says: ‘You have a lot of extra oestrogen in your body in the first trimester [0-12 weeks]‚ which can make you more prone to tearfulness. There’s a lot of anxiety‚ too. The good news is that extra oestrogen may also promote feelings of happiness and optimism. However‚ if you’re feeling particularly down for long periods of time‚ talk to your midwife or GP.’
WHAT YOU CAN DO
TELL PEOPLE WHAT’S GOING ON – explain to them that it’s not their fault you’re
a weeping willow – or yours.
DON’T BE EMBARRASSED – being emotional is as much a part of pregnancy as tiredness and nausea.

NESTING
Midwife Jane says: Unusual urge to cook, clean and sort in the last few weeks of pregnancy? It could be that your ‘nesting instinct’ has kicked in. ‘There’s no research on this‚ but mums-to-be and midwives can testify it happens. It’s seen as a sign of the onset of labour. There are probably some hormonal changes going on. In fact‚ it’s good to be active in early labour to take your mind off things.’
WHAT YOU CAN DO
STAY SAFE. Don’t climb ladders or balance on furniture‚ and avoid breathing in toxic chemicals in small spaces. Listen to your body and don’t overdo things.
MAKE GOOD USE OF THE URGE – you may not have the time or inclination again! Fill your freezer with home-made meals for after the birth; wash new baby clothes; unwrap new equipment‚ find out how it works and file receipts and instructions.

FEELING FRISKY

It’s all thanks to the high levels of oestrogen and male hormone testosterone in your body‚ which significantly affect desire. Your body is also producing more blood than normal‚ so every part of you is super-sensitive. Even your orgasms will be more intense.
Midwife Jane says: ‘It’s perfectly safe to have sex during pregnancy. Your partner’s penis cannot penetrate beyond your vagina‚ so can’t hurt your baby. But there is a risk of infection once your waters have broken. Also‚ don’t have sex if you experience bleeding – if you bleed‚ you should always discuss it with your GP.’
WHAT YOU CAN DO
EXPERIMENT! When your bump starts getting in the way‚ have fun trying out some different positions.
DON’T WORRY IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE MOOD. ‘Sex drives vary‚’ says Jane.
‘The most important thing is to talk to your partner about how you’re feeling.’ Try to stay physically close in other ways‚ such as cuddling and massage.

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FEELING LOW?
At least 10% of mums-to-be are thought to experience antenatal depression, mostly
in the final stages of pregnancy. Symptoms may include feeling tired but unable to sleep; under- or over-eating, fear of open spaces, crying a lot, feeling isolated, chronic stress and anxiety, irritability and irrational thoughts and behaviour, symptoms of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), lack of interest in anything or a preoccupation with the pregnancy. If you think you could be depressed, talk to your midwife so you can be supported or referred for counselling. If necessary, your GP can also prescribe antidepressants. For info, visit positivelypregnant.co.uk.

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